RECKONING WITH RADICAL ISLAM - LEE HAMILTON (INDYSTAR.COM, AUGUST 23): We need robust public diplomacy to build substantive ties with the world's Muslims. We need more scholarships, exchange programs and American libraries in Muslim countries, and more funding for the kind of outreach and international broadcasting that we used to reach across the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Our diplomats need to get out of our embassies and travel more around Muslim countries to engage their citizens. And we need America's Muslims to play a more prominent role in building bridges of understanding with their co-religionists globally. Ultimately, only Muslims can reject the radicalization in their midst.
TERROR VIDEOS FLOOD INTERNET - CAROL EISENBERG (NEWSDAY.COM, AUGUST 23): Terror analysts have no argument with public diplomacy, but say it isn't sufficient to the challenge.
PROVINCIAL RECONSTRUCTION TEAMS IN IRAQ - ARMCHAIR GENERALIST: A PROGRESSIVE VIEW ON MILITARY AFFAIRS, AUGUST 13): The twenty-five Iraq Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are typically partnered with or embedded with a military unit, usually a brigade sized element. They concentrate on five thematic areas to include rule of law, infrastructure, economic development, governance and public diplomacy.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE: US MILITARY PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS AND YOU - HEATHER WOKUSCH (COMMON DREAMS, AUGUST 12): While The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 forbids US propaganda intended for foreign audiences from being used domestically, the Information Operations Roadmap -- a 2003 Pentagon document detailed the US military's approach to exploiting information in order to 'keep pace with warfighter needs and support defense transformation' -- acknowledges that 'information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP, increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa.' We must become more vigilant about the ongoing use of military PSYOP and misinformation.
REACTION TO KARL ROVE RESIGNATION - ASSOCIATED PRESS (FROBES, AUGUST 23): 'He [Rove] is brilliant, he is funny and he is a passionate advocate for the president and his policies and I know that he will continue to play that role outside of the administration ... . He was always upbeat. I don't recall ever seeing him down.' -- Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes. http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/08/13/ap4013943.html
PAKISTANI ROCK STAR SINGS "BIN LADEN BLUES" ? AMAR C. BASHKI (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 10): The music metaphor for improved East-West relations doesn't escape Pakistani rock stars Mekaal Hasan Mekaal as he says 'music is the greatest source of joy here' and there are so many connections between America and Pakistan through music as long as we can 'explode misconceptions ... and pull the connections out.'
THE REFUGEE CRISIS: HELPING IRAQIS WHO HELPED US ? EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 12): Bills introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) would set up processing facilities in Iraq, establish Iraqi refugee coordinators at U.S. embassies in the region and authorize more funding. Legislators should support these bills.
COMPANY DENIES WORKERS FORCED TO IRAQ - DIANA ELIAS, ASSOCIATED PRESS (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 12): A Kuwaiti contracting firm denied allegations it took Filipino workers to Iraq without their knowledge to build the new U.S. Embassy there, and threatened Sunday to pursue those who made the claim.
U.S. PAYS MILLIONS IN COST OVERRUNS FOR SECURITY IN IRAQ - STEVE FAINARU (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 12)
THE MERCENARY REVOLUTION: FLUSH WITH PROFITS FROM THE IRAQ WAR, MILITARY CONTRACTORS SEE A WORLD OF BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES - JEREMY SCAHILL (COUNTERPUNCH, AUGUST 13): With almost no congressional oversight and even less public awareness, the Bush administration has more than doubled the size of the U.S. occupation through the use of private war companies. There are now almost 200,000 private "contractors" deployed in Iraq by Washington. This means that U.S. military forces in Iraq are now outsized by a coalition of billing corporations whose actions go largely unmonitored and whose crimes are virtually unpunished.
WARS WITHIN WARS IN IRAQ: FORGET WASHINGTON'S SIMPLISTIC VIEW. THE CONFLICT IS REALLY A MOSAIC OF DIFFERENT GROUPS FIGHTING FOR A VARIETY OF GOALS - RICHARD ENGEL (LOS ANGELES TIMES, AUGUST 12): Despite what you may have heard, there is no "war" in Iraq. Rather, there are many wars raging through the Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni territories. These wars are complicated and deep-seated, with roots that, in some cases, go back centuries.
GOOD, BAD, UGLY IN IRAQ - ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE (WASHINGTON TIMES, AUGUST 11): Iraq now risks drifting back into a violent quagmire after the U.S. military surge in Baghdad is declared a success, sometime before year's end.
BAGHDAD BABYLON: HOPE AND DESPAIR IN DIVIDED IRAQ - ULLRICH FICHTNER (SPIEGEL ONLINE, AUGUST 10): When describing Iraq, the word "peace" is seldom used. Truth be told, the Americans have restored order to many parts of the county. But Iraq remains fractured, and where new schools are built today, bombs could explode tomorrow.
FIGHTING THE "REAL" FIGHT: FOOLISH MYTHS ABOUT AL-QAIDA IN MESOPOTAMIA - CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS (SLATE, AUGUST 13): Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia is a branch of al-Qaida itself.
CONSEQUENCES AND TRUTH: MYTHS FROM WASHINGTON - OPINION (USA TODAY, AUGUST 10): How to prevent a full-blown civil war in Iraq is not obvious. It might not be possible. Even so, Americans deserve a more honest picture than the "us against the terrorists" one drawn by the White House.
SHUFFLING OFF TO CRAWFORD, 2007 EDITION - FRANK RICH (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 12): The White House's public relations strategies for the war, far from waning, are again gathering steam, to America's peril.
ESCALATION BY THE NUMBERS: WHAT "PROGRESS" IN IRAQ REALLY MEANS - TOM ENGELHARDT (TOMDISPATCH, AUGUST 13): Few numbers out of Iraq can be trusted. Counting accurately amid widespread disruption, mayhem, and bloodshed, under a failing occupation, in a land essentially lacking a central government, in a US media landscape still dizzy from the endless spin of the Bush administration and its military commanders is probably next to impossible.
WAITING FOR PETRAEUS - JIM HOAGLAND (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 12): The policy contradictions and conflicts within his own government that Bush has never been able or willing to resolve have created a Beckett-like hell of unfulfilled expectations and immobility for both Iraqis and Americans.
CROCKER VS PETRAEUS MARC LYNCH (ABU AARDVARK, AUGUST 10): No matter how close their reported working relationship, or their very real skills, Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus are actually working at cross-purposes. Petraeus's military 'successes' and local initiatives come at the expense of the national political track, not in support of it.
DELAYING THE INEVITABLE - NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 13): Gen. David Petraeus is doing an excellent job, but the surge isn?t about making streets safe. Rather its aim is to create political space for reconciliation -- and in that respect the surge has failed. At the end of the day, we have only so much money and so much energy.
WRONG WAY OUT OF IRAQ ? EDITORIAL (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 13): The United States cannot walk away from the new international terrorist front it created in Iraq. It will need to keep sufficient forces and staging points in the region to strike effectively against terrorist sanctuaries there or a Qaeda bid to hijack control of a strife-torn Iraq. But there should be no illusions about trying to continue the war on a reduced scale. It is folly to expect a smaller American force to do in a short time what a much larger force could not do over a very long time.
A GENERAL CALL FOR 'STRATEGIC PATIENCE' IN IRAQ, PLUS DISCOMFORTING SPECIFICS - WALTER PINCUS (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 13): A secure withdrawal that includes all U.S. supplies and equipment and that phases out U.S. bases would take at least nine to 12 months and probably much longer. Two years is what many military experts think would be a rapid, but deliberate, pace. Such an effort should include transferring or destroying facilities and stocks that could fuel a civil war, as well as deciding the fate of more than $20 billion in aid projects and of the gigantic U.S. Embassy -- which may end up as the most expensive white elephant in the history of American diplomacy. This is information contained in Anthony H. Cordesman's absorbing 25-page trip report, "The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience in Iraq," based on eight days he spent in that country last month.
WHO NOW OPPOSES THE WAR? - DAVID BROMWICH (HUFFINGTON POST, AUGUST 13): In the last three weeks, it seems, the whole American establishment from Time to the New York Times from the Brookings Institution (where O'Hanlon and Pollack are resident scholars) to the American Enterprise Institute, and from the leading Democrats to the leading Republicans in the race for president -- all these entities and persons have implicitly agreed on the proposition: No significant troop reductions through 2008. There is now an agreed-on, long-term U.S. strategy for the Middle East, which requires a large military presence in Iraq as a permanent base of operations.
WINNING IS LOSING - SHELDON RICHMAN (FUTURE OF FREEDOM FOUNDATION, AUGUST 10): The issue is not whether the occupying U.S. force can pacify Iraq. Maybe it can -- for a while. What?s important is that a victory for the Bush administration will be a defeat for the American people, and vice versa.
THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WAR JOAN WALSH (SALON, AUGUST 13): Karl Rove chaired the White House Iraq Group, which was devoted to selling the notion that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat to the United States. If he had left the White House six years ago to be with his family, the nearly 3,700 Americans who've died in the needless war he peddled might still be with theirs.
FENCING WITH TEHRAN: A U.S. MILITARY STRIKE WOULD BE DISASTROUS. BUT FAR MORE MUST BE DONE TO CONTAIN A COCKY IRAN EDITORIAL (LOS ANGELES TIMES, AUGUST 12): To avoid making an anti-American hero of Ahmadinejad and further alienating allies, US politicians should stop talking about bombing Iran. Instead, they should set about repairing America's international standing and figure out what diplomatic deals could induce other nations to sign up for the serious financial penalties that offer the best chance of stopping Tehran's nuclear breakout.
TUSSLING OVER IRAN ALAN BOCK (ANTIWAR.COM, AUGUST 11): Whatever the president?s knee-jerk inclinations, the military will let it be known that initiating military action against Iran would be disastrous, further decimating a military force that is already stretched too thin by the demands placed upon it in Iraq.
THE DANGERS OF 'PEACE' MAKING: AMERICA'S LATEST EFFORTS MERELY ENTRENCHED AL QAEDA IN THE GAZA STRIP - DORE GOLD (OPINION JOURNAL FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL PAGE, AUGUST 12): The U.S. and its Western allies thought that Israel's Gaza pullout would establish the foundations of a Palestinian state and thus reduce the flames of radical Islamic rage. Instead they got an al-Qaeda sanctuary on the shores of the Mediterranean.
LOSING THE ADVANTAGE: HOW THE ?GOOD WAR? IN AFGHANISTAN WENT BAD - DAVID ROHDE AND DAVID E. SANGER (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 12)
MEANWHILE, BACK IN AFGHANISTAN... EDWARD M. GOMEZ (SF GATE, AUGUST 10): Just what is anybody doing anymore -- U.S. troops, British and Canadian soldiers, other NATO forces -- in George W. Bush's war (or whatever it is) in Afghanistan? Does anybody know what its aims and strategy once were or are now supposed to be? Does Bush himself know or, as he sets off on the month-long vacation his handlers have renamed, with their usual, Orwellian touch, a "recess," does he even care?
FIGHT LESS, WIN MORE - NATHANIEL FICK (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 12): If we emphasize "force protection" above all else, we will never develop the cultural understanding, relationships and intelligence we need to win. Accepting the greater tactical risk of reaching out to Afghans reduces the strategic risk that the Taliban will return to power.
MUSHARRAF'S STATE OF EMERGENCY - AHMED RASHID (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 12): Since 2001 the Bush administration has refused to understand that political stability in Pakistan requires a modicum of democracy, a political consensus among the country's various liberal forces and a working relationship among the four provinces before any battle against extremism can succeed.
CALLING THEM KILLERS DOESN'T MAKE THEM SO ANDREW COHEN (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 10): If the White House has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to the handling of the detainees, it should have no problem consistently telling the American people that hundreds of detainees at Gitmo never took up arms against us. Failing that, it should stop tagging them as "killers" before they are tried and convicted.
US TERROR INTERROGATION WENT TOO FAR, EXPERTS SAY: REPORTS FIND THAT JOSE PADILLA'S SOLITARY CONFINEMENT LED TO MENTAL PROBLEMS - WARREN RICHEY (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, AUGUST 13)
A VERY SPECIAL DON'T PANIC: THE WAR ON TERROR SO FAR - ANDISHEH NOURAEE (CREATIVELOAGING.COM, AUGUST 8): America is losing the War on Terror because it put a feckless man-child in charge, then turned and watched "American Idol," "CSI: Miami" and YouTube videos of teenagers making rockets out of Diet Coke and Mentos.
NOT THE WAY TO INTERVENE - PAUL J. SAUNDERS (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 13): If America appears to be wise, responsible and unstoppable in its use of force, we will create our own legitimacy.
SUMMER BACKGROUNDER ? BAGNEWSNOTES (AUGUST 12): One of the summer's best theatrical productions has been staged by those dramaturgical experts at the Pennsylvania Avenue Playhouse. Wanting to avoid any extra wartime slings and arrows, two head-of-state visits have now been shot as a family serial at Poppa Bush's Maine compound. Just like the unplanned absence of Mrs. Putin, this weekend's last minute cancellation by Mrs. Sarkozy and her children turned Laura Bush and the extended Bush clan into extras from central casting. With all the pretty scenery and the one-sided show of family, however, one tends not to notice what the picture really describes -- which is a show of congenial domesticity cooked up by a war-charged Administration to soften the image of its lead alpha male. INCLUDES PHOTOGRAPH.